I wish those who don't read could relinquish their free time to those of us who do read but don't have enough time to read. Orchid has been on my TBRI wish those who don't read could relinquish their free time to those of us who do read but don't have enough time to read. Orchid has been on my TBR list for a long while, and I just got to it. It was a quick, fun, and entertaining read that I should have gotten to much sooner. From the graveyard, to the pit of the rain soaked grave, to the appearance of a sinister cryptic character, to all that comes after, Orchid is an enjoyable short story worthy of the genre label 'Horror'. Nicely done, Shane KP O'Neill....more
Twist and Shout, "Murder!" A skeletal corpse, a thirty-three year-old murder mystery, a missing person case equally as old, Detective Inspector Andy RoTwist and Shout, "Murder!" A skeletal corpse, a thirty-three year-old murder mystery, a missing person case equally as old, Detective Inspector Andy Ross and his dedicated team of British police officers, and the Mersey-beat of the by-gone days of rock and roll (when I grew up)! From first clue to final twist, what's not to like in Brian L. Porter's 'A Mersey Killing'....more
Tinkerhill Falls, 1656, five condemned criminals go to meet their maker. But their executioner, an ex-lawman it seems, is no ordinary man. He's viciouTinkerhill Falls, 1656, five condemned criminals go to meet their maker. But their executioner, an ex-lawman it seems, is no ordinary man. He's vicious, brutal, and can smell guilt. When the blood and body parts stop flying... but that would be telling. Tinkerhill Falls, present day, a murderous serial killer and arsonist, Theodore Stone, is being transported by FBI Special Agent Lucinda Ackerman to his execution. An accident allows Stone to escape with a hostage. Ackerman's rescue attempt goes pear-shaped and... but that would be telling too. Let's just say, old lawmen never die. And, while revenge may be a dish best served cold, it doesn't hold a candle to vigilante justice, here served coldly, quickly, and relentlessly. Ian David Noakes' novel is a mystery, a thriller, it has some laughs, and it spans the ages, but make no mistake about it, readers, The Ancient Lawman is first and foremost a gory horror novel. Don't pick it up looking for depth of character, moving dialogue, and great moral truth, you'll be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you come ready to be freaked out, if you fasten your seat belt and shout, "Do it to me!" Noakes obliges, with relish. I received a copy of The Ancient Lawman from the publisher in return for an honest review. I enjoyed the book and give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars....more
The midget clowns, the fat lady, Fred the circus owner, and his dear old dad; they're murderers and monsters all (some are even cannibals), but they jThe midget clowns, the fat lady, Fred the circus owner, and his dear old dad; they're murderers and monsters all (some are even cannibals), but they just want to be loved. Read the title. That's what it is, a Circus of Horrors. If you don't like scary, eye-popping, and even a little disgusting, do yourself a favor and stay away! But if you enjoy a terrifying thrill ride from the safety of your comfy reading chair, take a gander - and I dare you to try and remain comfy. Carole Gill does dark as well as anyone out there. Enjoy....more
If you're looking for 'vampire' entertainment, and you like your blood suckers moderately bloody with a large dose of sly humor, then I heartily recomIf you're looking for 'vampire' entertainment, and you like your blood suckers moderately bloody with a large dose of sly humor, then I heartily recommend Edwin Stark's The Clayton Chronicles. Comprised of two novellas, The Wandering Blood and Blood Mall, these are vampires tales with bite and a biting sense of fun. Sheriff Clayton Harris is used to quiet in his little town of Nosfort, Massachusetts, until one day a body, drained of blood with puncture marks in its throat, messes everything up. Harris has a vampire problem and (in a rare twist) doesn't have to be convinced. Harris collects 'Vault of Horror' comic books and he knows when a monster is around! The offending creature, a young violent vampire named Browning (snort), wants to turn little Nosfort into a vampire nest (Nosferatu fort?, double snort). What the sheriff doesn't know is he'll soon have help in the form of Sherwin Williams (The Wandering Blood) a 'relatively' benign vampire sent by the Vampiric High Council to help stop Browning. Plenty of vampire tropes take a light-hearted ribbing via Stark's pen. Old vampires like Williams, it seems, become philosophical. It's really only immature vampires that humans need fear. Likewise, crosses do a lot more damage to snotty young vamps than those with experience. Being turned into a vampire damages human intelligence, making initiates temporary (by vampire years) idiots. Vampires love politics, have difficulty selecting sunscreen, and enjoy cucumber sandwiches. It's all a lot of fun and still manages to work in a fair share of biting and blood, particularly in the second installment when local kids start coming up missing. It isn't perfect. What book is? Stark's prose could occasionally stand fewer modifiers, there is a reference to 'Camille' when, in context, he clearly means 'Carmilla'. But neither is a big deal. His character's love of EC comics and Mad magazine more than made up for these. (I met, and relished meeting, Bill Gaines (creator of both), back in the day and was a fan. I was happily at home with The Clayton Chronicles. It's fun vampire fiction and worth reading....more
I received a reader's copy of A Ripple of Fear in exchange for an honest review. I wasn't sure at all how much I would be able to appreciate A Ripple oI received a reader's copy of A Ripple of Fear in exchange for an honest review. I wasn't sure at all how much I would be able to appreciate A Ripple of Fear (Book One in the Fears of Dakota Series) because I am a middle-aged man and Dakota, the protagonist of this novel, is an 18 year old girl with sister conflicts, and boyfriend worries, and teenage angst and... You get it. How could I relate? More, she has family and friends that are quite eccentric and, in a lot of ways, almost too good to be true. They're polite, and heroic, and committed to one another and, well, I wasn't sure they were real people. I liked them. And I enjoyed hearing about them. But I wasn't sure I completely believed in them. Then they received horrible news and I bawled like a baby. I cried through the whole chapter and realized I did believe in them and cared what happened to them. Then their world began to crumble...
J.M. Northup is a terrific writer. She's not some far away author condescending to tell you her tale for a price. She's the old friend across the kitchen table, pouring out her heart to you in a way only an old friend can. I recommend A Ripple of Fear. I am looking forward to book two, Fears of Darkness....more
Told from the perspective of the serial killer. Too bad. Reading well written psychopathic prose is much like watching Swan Lake danced well by the deTold from the perspective of the serial killer. Too bad. Reading well written psychopathic prose is much like watching Swan Lake danced well by the defensive line of the St. Louis Rams. Sort of pointless. Many murders made it grim but not particularly gripping. I'd just as soon have the cops be the heroes....more
Horror is all around us, if we live in author Carole Gill's world. From the lighthouses on the seashore to the haunted houses of old New Orleans, It hHorror is all around us, if we live in author Carole Gill's world. From the lighthouses on the seashore to the haunted houses of old New Orleans, It holds sway over us, from costumed children on Halloween to old ladies in their parlors. It gnaws at us from birth, and only gets worse after we die. House of Horrors is a wonderful collection of short horror stories. Over and over again, the author leads you gently into a familiar place, then bites you. The scares are real. And like all good scares, they're followed soon after by a laugh because you know the writer got you good. Again and again, a simple perfectly chosen phrase gets you. “My brother has this shop. . . ” means nothing by itself. But in the story 'Just A Necromantic At Heart', that simple sentence makes you laugh and cringe at the same time. The things that nightmares are made of... An excellent read. -- I received a copy of House of Horrors in exchange for an honest review....more
I didn't get any writing done today and I blame writer John Reinhard Dizon.
Yesterday he sent me a copy of this novel, Tiara, in exchange for an honestI didn't get any writing done today and I blame writer John Reinhard Dizon.
Yesterday he sent me a copy of this novel, Tiara, in exchange for an honest review. I started it this morning and could not put it down. That is not a figure of speech; I just finished it. Tiara is, as the title suggests, the tale of a princess (in this case, Jennifer Mac Manus, Princess of Edinburgh) but it is NOT a bedtime story. I couldn't quit reading and you won't either.
Kidnapped on the eve of the start of peace talks in her attempt to end the violence in Northern Ireland, Princess Jennifer finds herself the mistreated prize in a war between the military and her terrorist captors, between the police and the gangsters who provide her captors support, and the American CIA, and mercenaries, and assassins, and the churches on both sides of an age old struggle, and the communities torn apart by the entire breakneck carnival of chaos.
Set in 1998, Tiara features several modern knights, many knaves, a lot of ferocious fire breathing dragons, and an iron-willed princess who, nevertheless, finds herself in need of rescuing. It is not a morality play, black and white, good and evil, are often blurred by emotion, politics, and mania, but it is a modern fairy tale. And it is entirely deserving of your attention....more
It's creepy and it's kookie... and for an old Munsters and Addams Family fan, it's an all new take on notions from my comfy past. What am I talking abIt's creepy and it's kookie... and for an old Munsters and Addams Family fan, it's an all new take on notions from my comfy past. What am I talking about? Wherewolf, that's what, the first book in what I understand is quickly becoming a new classic series of comedy (with a capital C) monster detective books, cumulatively called Skullenia, by author Tony Lewis. You'll grin, you'll groan, but mostly you'll laugh out loud as you follow the adventures of half-vampire Ollie who may or may not be up to solving monster mysteries. Wherewolf was too much fun!...more
I received a reader's copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
Think of Victorian London and one image immediately comes to mind, a serial kiI received a reader's copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
Think of Victorian London and one image immediately comes to mind, a serial killer known to the populace as Jack the Ripper haunting fog-shrouded Whitechapel, slaughtering prostitutes with impunity. What you don't know, what you couldn't know until now, is that another killer was loose in that great city at that very same time. Enter Brian L. Porter, Ripper expert, author of A Study in Red, and writer/producer of the upcoming television series Jack the Ripper Reality and Myth, with his gripping novel based upon real events; Behind Closed Doors.
It's the story of another set of gruesome murders that took place in London in the fall of 1888, at the height of the Ripper murders; these on the city's Underground Railroad. It is the story of Detective Inspector Albert Norris, a man fighting personal demons of his own, and his Detective Sergeant Dylan Hillman, pressured to solve a series of murders of young women without the public getting a hint the murders have taken place. Under incredible pressure already, due to the Ripper killings, Norris and Hillman must keep their investigation an absolute secret. The very few witnesses they are allowed to question are sworn to secrecy under threat of imprisonment, and the livelihood of the detectives themselves hangs in the balance should word get out.
Life intruded when I started the novel so I was forced to come back to it. I refused to put it down from the mid-point on. I read it in one edge-of-my-seat sitting. I'm a sucker for a good mystery, love Victorian thrills. and am fascinated by the Ripper killings. The Underground murders, well-told in a novel that brings these ghosts from history back to life, adds a delicious spice to the murderous pursuits. I really enjoyed Behind Closed Doors and highly recommend it....more
I received a free copy of The Seren Trilogy in return for an honest review.
And what I found was indescribable fun. A story for wildly imaginative chilI received a free copy of The Seren Trilogy in return for an honest review.
And what I found was indescribable fun. A story for wildly imaginative children wherein a little girl and her cat travel through space and time meeting one adventure after another; including but not limited to talking rabbits on a mission to save the world, angry dragons pledged to destroy it, an old dark house next door, and magic, lots and lots of magic. None of it makes very much sense but then neither does The Wizard of Oz. Author Darren Lewis offers up a crazy fantasy with a quirky sense of humor and a lot of heart....more
I received a free copy of Blood Curry (A collection of recipes, poems and short stories in the speculative genre) in return for an honest review.
Of coI received a free copy of Blood Curry (A collection of recipes, poems and short stories in the speculative genre) in return for an honest review.
Of course speculative isn't really a genre. It is a carefully selected word giving author John Irvine carte blanche to include any tale he wanted; horror, science fiction, fantasy, splatter, soap box rant in this loose anthology. And he does; seventy-six short stories, poems, sonnets, and/or just passing thoughts to which he's attached titles. That does not count the additional twenty-two recipes (17 for various dishes, 5 for drinks) all featuring blood as an ingredient. This last, odd thematic thread is an interesting and amusing idea that, at first, adds to the queasy tone. But as there are so many works in this volume, the culinary nods quickly become annoying intrusions. By the fifth recipe, I no longer cared, and by the seventh, I was paging past with barely a glance. In a smaller collection, I might have appreciated their presence more. But that's me. If you're into blood, cooking, or exotic foods, these might be your favorite part of the book. Bon appetit.
Now to the poetry and fiction. As you see above, I have given Blood Curry 4 Stars. They are well earned, but not unqualified. Because not all of the works deserve 4 Stars. For every story or poem I liked, there was another that I found merely okay. For every story I considered a masterpiece, and there were several, there was a tale that I hated! If you'll forgive my kidnapping Longfellow's 'little girl with the little curl', when John Irvine is good he's very good indeed, but when he's bad he's horrid. The 4 Stars aren't for the horrid ones. They're for the stories in this book that horror fans must read. Among those are: Skin, Another Shadow, I'm Sorry (a brilliant piece on love and retribution), and the wonderfully fun Keeping An Ear to the Pillow. There are more, many more that are very good: Grandfather, Annabelle of Aries, Bombazine as a Culinary Statement, and Look after your Leather Belt.
But it isn't all sweetness and light. Breeders might have been a nifty little sci-fi tale had it been told about believable people. Instead it is a wasted opportunity wherein Irvine, using the southern US as a setting, spews incestuous hillbilly stereotypes with a mind-numbing rapidity. (He seems to have a hard-on for Tennessee as he goes at them in several stories. One wonders if he isn't just taking an inside poke at Tony Karnes, a Tennessee native and one of seven illustrators who contributed to the book, at our expense.) The author misses again with the story Saving Manhattan, another stereotyped mess that might have had a chance were it set in the Bronx, Queens, or Harlem. But Manhattan? Gran O'Hood and the Wolfe offered nothing but a tired swipe at supposedly gun crazy Americans. His story An Eye for an Eye is more of the same. (Honestly, nobody has fired a shot the whole time I've worked on this review.) He disappoints with the tepid rambling of Puppet on a String, with In the Beginning, and with the nonsense pieces Life, and My Alien Penis. Ode to Her Tongue probably meant something to the author but it didn't to me. Zero Gravity Love was a waste of the three seconds it took to read it.
But I admit I'm picking gnat poop out of pepper, seventy-six is a lot of stories. You can't please everybody all the time, and I seriously doubt Irvine wants to. His writing is, if anything, direct and fearless and. in the end, the totality of the work makes it great. John Irvine is a damned fine writer. Mirror, mirror is a great terror fantasy, Pink is a jaw dropping tale, and his short story Exotic Flower is absolutely, genuinely effing horrifying. More, I was amused by Her Elegant Fingers, and What You Wish For, and I laughed my hind end off with Sleeping Beauty and the Prince of Plumbers. Winter Moon was a fine horror tale with a twist. You Are What You Eat was crazy and creepy. I could go on and on. But I've said more than enough. Blood Curry is some bad, some okay, and a whole lot of great. It is liberally illustrated by an international coterie of talented artists (many writers themselves). And, overall, it deserves 4 Stars and your attention....more
I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
I am not the target audience for The Cartographer. It features a teenaged hero andI received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
I am not the target audience for The Cartographer. It features a teenaged hero and reads, primarily, like a Young Adult novel. More, it is a science fiction tale and I read little science fiction. But it is an adventure - and I love adventures. Treasure Island has always been one of my favorite books. The Cartographer has a setup much like Treasure Island, a young man forced into a long journey of epic proportions (here, in space instead of on the high seas), making allies and enemies along the way, fighting battles and facing fears he never dreamed of and, in the end, meeting the climax as a much more mature fellow.
Well, everything but that last bit. Everything up to 'in the end'. You see, The Cartographer doesn't feature a climax. It introduces a galaxy of fun and interesting characters, a lot of jeopardy and explosive action, and an intriguing plot line. That's what I enjoyed about the novel. What I didn't enjoy was the young hero, Nathan Chambers, who cries too much, whines too much, and swears too much. And he's a bad influence on his shipmates because after a while the aliens are swearing like longshoremen too. But there is something about the character I want to like. I hope he matures between now and the sequel.
That's the other thing... ** SPOILER ALERT ** There will be a sequel. There must be because the author left the novel in a cliff hanger. There was no climax to this story for the young man to show any gained maturity. That's not a complaint, merely a fact. (And it's not the first time it's happened; film-goers know The Empire Strikes Back did the same thing.) So Nathan will return. I'm glad for that because the upcoming story promises to tell the part of the plot I was really looking forward to. When he does, I hope he's more mature, I hope he swears less, and I hope someone orders him to stop saying, OK.
The Cartographer is not Treasure Island. When I read Treasure Island, I want to be Jim, I want to sail the seven seas, I want to fight pirates! The Cartographer did not make me want to be Nathan or travel through space. But I did enjoy watching him do it. The book engaged me enough that I look forward to the sequel in hopes that a more mature Nathan recruits me to not only read about him but to sail with him to the stars on a great adventure, fighting villainous aliens! ...more